75th anniversary of Quit India Movement: Sonia says Modi govt encourages vigilantism


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    Today many sections, including minorities, Dalits, the tribals and women, live in fear.

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    Congress must always remain on the frontline in defence of liberty and values associated with it.

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    Thousands of Congress workers remained in prison as part of our freedom struggle, said Sonia.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi has come down heavily on the Narendra Modi government at the Centre, which she alleged was encouraging and empowering the “anti-social elements or self-appointed vigilantes” to “flout the rule of law and unleash oppression”.

Speaking at the special Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting convened to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Quit India Movement in New Delhi today, Sonia said the country had travelled a great distance since 1942. “As we pause and take stock of the situation on the 75th anniversary of the launch of the Quit India movement, we are deeply anguished by the assault on the freedoms that our people have enjoyed since.”

The Congress president further alleged that today many sections – none more than the minorities, the Dalits, the tribals and women – live in fear. “Not a day passes without an incident where the liberty of the individual has been trampled upon by anti-social elements or self-appointed vigilantes,” she said.

Sonia said far from curbing their onslaught, the government was encouraging and empowering them to flout the rule of law and unleash oppression.


“All this taken together is the biggest threat to liberty, and is the enemy of pluralism and diversity,” she added.

She said the Congress party must always remain on the frontline in defence of liberty and numerous values associated with liberty, and the institutions that go with it. “We must never bow before those who assault the liberty of the individual and of society. This is the task history enjoined upon us, to fight every inch of the way until we prevail and re-establish the values on which free India was founded and built since 1947,” she said.

The Congress chief added, “For the Congress, the Quit India Movement is a reminder that brute force can and must be resisted in the name of freedom. Even when the odds appear to be against us, and the adversary appears all-powerful, we can succeed if we persevere in fighting for the India we believe in and cherish.”

Talking about the Quit India Movement, Sonia said it is a very special day for the Congress party. It was on this day, 75 years ago, that Mahatma Gandhi gave the call, at Gawalia Tank, in what was then Bombay, to launch the final and decisive phase of the struggle for independence. His call, “Do or Die”, was a clarion call to the party and to the freedom fighters, and from that day onwards, the momentum of the freedom movement was unstoppable, she said.


“Let us remember that the entire leadership of the Indian National Congress, and the whole Working Committee, was arrested and imprisoned shortly after August 8, 1942. Many of the leaders and thousands of Congress workers remained in prison until World War II ended three years later in 1945. Let us also pay homage to the thousands of loyal and devoted Congress workers, men and women who sustained the movement from underground in spite of brutal repression inflicted on them by the British authorities,” she said.

Sonia further said millions of people threw themselves into the Quit India movement. They bravely opposed the oppression that was unleashed by the colonial government.

In a direct reference to the BJP and its parent organisation RSS but without naming them, Sonia accused them of opposing the Quit India Movement and conniving with the Britishers then. “While we salute the patriots who were at the forefront of the struggle, we must not forget that there were organisations and individuals who opposed the 1942 movement and actually collaborated with the colonial government. Their political descendants are the very people who today hold high office and have arrogated to themselves the role of torch-bearers of our freedom,” she said.

She said liberty was the lifeline of democracy. “Liberty takes within its sweep, freedom of speech; freedom to dissent; freedom of choice; freedom of worship; the rule of law; equality; and social justice. If any of these values is impaired, liberty itself will be diminished and curtailed,” she added.


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